Long-running sci-fi MMO EVE Online is making the leap to free-to-play after more than a decade utilising a premium business model.
The trading and combat title fondly nicknamed ‘spreadsheets in space’ for its complexity launched in 2003 and asked players to cough up a monthly subscription fee.
This was later adapted to allow users to pay for their subscription using the in-game ISK currency (which can be earned in-game without spending any real money), with a separate item known as PLEX providing 30 additional days of access.
This latest move will maintain the existing subscription tier, albeit rebranded as a state known as Omega Clones. Those who keep up their payments will be granted unlimited skill progression, as well as faster levelling-up in skills, plus other perks.
Free-to-play users will instead be classified as Alpha Clones, which allows access to the main game, but limited skill abilities and ships – the title’s bread and butter.
In addition, current subscribers who drop their commitment but carry on using ships and skills designated as Omega-level will suffer penalties.
“EVE is a very special game,” CCP said in an announcement post. “Our single shard server means that every player truly affects every other, whether through economics, resource gathering, direct combat or bad posting. This in turn means that our universe is more interesting, more exciting and more dangerous with each additional citizen.
“Just like you, we’ve known this for a long time and, just like you, we’ve been doing everything we can to bring more people into our spectacular sandbox. Part of our vision for the future of EVE has included more open access for some time, but with the interconnected nature of the game comes vulnerability.
“We knew that if the flood gates were opened in the wrong way, we could see anything from server meltdowns to the collapse of the EVE economy. Over time, our hardware has improved, code has been untangled (mostly!) and we’ve found a design we believe in.”